I did a double-take when I heard this spoken from her mouth. Did I hear you correctly? Can you repeat that again?
My sister didn’t want meals brought over or financial support through this difficult time but asked to have her son’s room organized. What? Are you sure?
The week prior I had spent time with a friend picking her brain on the best ways to support a loved one who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. So I asked my sister, “Can I set up a meal train for you, set up a GoFund Me account, or go wig shopping with you? What can I do to help make this easier?”
Organizing your son’s room, was not on the list! But hey… yes sis, whatever you need. I’ve got this under control.
Let’s walk through the process I took to organize my nephew’s room. My hope is this will give you ideas and inspiration for your own child’s room.
Step 1: Assess the Chaos
Enter… my nephew’s room. Legos and stuffed animals and empty boxes oh my! I was beginning to understand why this room was a thorn in my sister’s side. This was going to be a fun challenge.
Right away it was evident purging was necessary. This is not a large room, in fact, it’s tiny. Above all else, I needed to make it fun and functional for a six-year-old boy.
Finding out what wasn’t working would be the key to making that happen. Here were my sister’s concerns:
- An organizer for toys that are easy to reach.
- A place to display his creations.
- An area for his school papers/calendars.
- A better layout for the room allowing room to play.Something he can maintain.
Step 2: Purge the Garbage
Attention spans of little boys are not long. A normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child’s age. Therefore, a 6-year-old should be able to concentrate on a particular task for at least 18 minutes.
That’s a short amount of time!
If I wanted to finish this room this weekend I was going to need to speed up the process. I accomplished this by purging the garbage while my nephew was away at school.
In any space, this step can make a tremendous difference costing you nothing.
Every item was sorted through to determine whether it was garbage or something of value.
I will say I deem Happy Meal toys as garbage and I think most moms would agree with me! They grab the attention of kids for a brief moment then get left behind and forgotten until they get stepped on in the middle of the night by an unsuspecting parent causing the steam to boil and overflow.
Get rid of it! I highly recommend disposing of all garbage before bringing your child in to help with the sorting.
Step 3: Put Like Items Together
Before I set out to pick up my nephew from school I put all like items together. All Legos were confined to the Lego table, books were placed in the bookcase, and all stuffed animals, dinosaurs, cars, superheroes, etc. were placed in separate piles.
I recommend sorting items into categories for a few reasons:
- Allows your child to see the quantity of a given category.
- Makes it easier to determine by groups what your child wants to keep or let go.
- Helps you visualize the number of bins/containers you’ll need for storage later on.
Step 4: Assess What Stays and What Goes
With my nephew in the room, we went through every item in every category to determine if it was something he really wanted to keep or if he was ready to let it go. He was able to get rid of some categories completely; some partial categories and other categories were a “must stay.”
Going through this process will help you determine what toys are important to your child. It might surprise you! Last, clear the room of all unwanted items.
Step 5: Reconfigure the Room
For larger rooms, I like to graph out the space to help with a room layout. Each square equates to one foot. Then I do the same with all the furniture pieces. Once complete you can move the items around on the graph paper to determine the best layout before moving heavy items.
Since my nephew’s room is small it left few options for the room layout. For this space, I used the measure and move method. Measure your space then move the furniture to the new location.
My nephew’s bed ended up fitting against a shorter wall allowing more open floor space for playing with his toys solving one of my sister’s wishes!
Step 6: Make a Shopping List
First, you need to determine the needs of the space. Remember sorting the items into categories in Step 4? This makes it easy to see the amount of items your child has and also the number of categories which require bins etc.
For my nephew’s room, I knew I needed a toy organizer to fit eight different toy bins and space to fit a couple of larger toys.
Next, you need to measure, measure, measure! Before you leave to go to the store measure the area you want to add organizers, lengths of walls, and/or size of items that need to fit in containers. There’s nothing worse than coming home with containers or furniture that just don’t fit.
Last, my husband would be happy to see I’m adding you need to determine a budget! It’s easy to get carried away in a store and get caught up in all the pretty, shiny, cute items.
The shopping list for my nephew’s room included: a toy organizer that will fit in his closet, a small garbage can, a place to hang his coat and backpack, a place to display his school papers, and new bedding.
Off to IKEA, we go!
Step 7: Clean and Assemble
I know you’re excited to put all your new organizers to use but before you do take the time to clean! Vacuum and wipe down the drawers and any other areas you will be placing items in the room. Cleaning is a lot easier to do now rather than waiting to do it later.
If you’ve ever been to IKEA nothing comes preassembled. It’s worth it though for their prices. My sister dived into assembling the rack for the closet while I put together all the bins.
Step 8: Organize & Decorate
This is my all-time favorite part of organizing a room. All your hard work pays off in this step.
The most important concept to remember in this step is to find a home for everything!
My sister and I chose a metal rack to place in my nephew’s closet. We considered creating more of a permanent structure but wanted the closet to be flexible for my nephew’s needs as he got older. Right now he needs room for toys but down the road, he may need room to hang up clothes or room for athletic equipment.
We put the rack in the closet and put bins on the shelves with his various categories of toys (e.g. cars, dinosaurs, superheroes).
To address some of my sister’s concerns we also added the following: a place to hang his coat/jacket, a garbage can, and three magnetic boards to display his papers and calendar from school. One of the wall shelves in his room will be designated for displaying his creations.
For fun, my sister purchased new bedding, curtains, a decorative wall leaf, clock, and a lamp to jazz up the room.
I love how it’s all coming together!
Step 9: Label
Labeling the bins and drawers in your child’s room will assist with the maintenance phase. This will not only be helpful for your child but also anyone else needing to put items away in the room.
These are my favorite bin labels from Target. The clips are made of metal and cost $6.99 for a pack of three. They hook over the top of the bin and are easy to interchange and label.
I contemplated not labeling his dresser drawers because my nephew was already familiar with the organization of them. My nieces, however, asked me to label the drawers so they knew where to put his laundry. Benefits of having older sisters!
My nephew is learning to read so I made all his labels with words and pictures to represent what the container/drawer contained. If I were to do it all over I would have made his drawer labels a bit smaller. A little overkill don’t you think!
Step 10: Reveal and Maintenance Plan
My nephew was so cute throughout the whole process wanting to help (for short chunks of time). Seeing his face light up to see toys he hadn’t seen in a while or couldn’t reach brought a smile to my face.
Now, how do we keep it this way?
One idea I had was to create a sticker chart with dinosaurs (A favorite for most boys his age. Every day he keeps his room clean he earns a sticker on his chart. When it’s all filled up my sister told him he could get a new toy.
Kids have to be taught how to clean their rooms. The ability to organize doesn’t come naturally to everyone and should be a skill taught. For the first few nights model for your child what it means to clean their room. Slowly fade yourself away from the process when you see your child being successful.
I also find it helpful to display a picture of the room all clean and organized. This way your child can see how it should look when they’re done.
Check out the before/after pictures. In one weekend and ten easy steps, we achieved all we had set out to do.
My nephew can now be independent getting his toys in and out, has a place to display his creations and papers, has a better layout to allow more room to play, and best of all it’s something he can maintain!
Isn’t that what we all desire for our kids?
Success for me though was receiving a card from my sister saying, “Words cannot describe the relief I felt after you cleaned and organized my son’s room. It has been such a joy to see him playing with his toys and then putting them away!”
This is a good reminder of how important it is to use your time and talents to positively impact someone else.
Now go fight this cancer sis…. You’ve got this!